You’ll like her. I’ve known you both for so long and are just perfect for each other. I’ve already told her so much about you. Here’s her number, give her a call.
Best Regards, Siri
Predictably, the recent launch of Apple’s new devices and operating system brought forth a frenzy of opinions. For many that defined their own sophistication by virtue of owning an Apple product, the plasticization also struck an unfamiliar cord.
Strategically however, I wonder if it has ever really been about the devices. Sure, Google paid a lot of money to own Motorola handsets and so did Microsoft when it bought Nokia’s hardware assets. But is it just so that they could become manufacturers of shiny and precisely engineered gadgets? Likely not. In my opinion, sustained monetization for companies like Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft and perhaps even Amazon will come from personal knowledge navigators like Apple’s Siri, Google Now or Microsoft’s rumored Cortana. Here’s why.
The arrival of smartphones as we know them today followed a playbook similar to the launch and evolution of ATM machines. We first needed a physical device similar to a bank’s teller window before we could learn to fork over our valuables (then money, now data) into a device. Increasingly however, we now handle money, payments and receipts in abstract forms that meet us where we are. Mobile, person to person payments and Bitcoins are evidence of the evolution.
Similarly, smartphones will melt and morph into variants such as eyewear, wristwatches, clothes, shoes etc. A Prada designed handbag that also tells you whether you are carrying the right shade of lipstick is not far off. And it will always be better looking than anything a technology company can conjure up.
Also, using an internet ‘browser’ to initiate a search or get recommendations will fall out of favor. It has to, because just displaying information on a screen is one intelligent step away from truly offering a recommendation or advice. And besides, who has time to read from a screen when you are chasing after your kids! As the “Internet of things” rises, the chatter between devices will lead to a cacophony of operating systems, design systems, languages, advertisements etc. That’s where knowledge navigators hold their most potential.
Today, you can look up symptoms for an illness on WebMD and very likely self diagnose yourself into an anxiety attack. You may never really see the doctor because you’d have to first find a specialist ; and lets face it - you have no clue what this will eventually cost you. You’ve heard about Obamacare but then you also got an email from your employer about something called Exchanges. You can’t be bothered by all that research even if a Google search is literally nanoseconds away - so instead, you just write a funny tweet about it and go to bed.
An alternate version of the story goes somewhat like this. You describe your symptoms or even take a picture of any physical manifestation. Siri, or the like, comes back to you with a few benign suggestions of things to try at home, but also suggests that she can get you into a doctor’s office, close to work at lunch. She can ping you (literally, not just send you an email) when the doctor’s office is ready to see you - so you don’t have to wait. She can even have lunch ordered for you to pick up on the way from the doctor’s office. A treat - because you deserve it. Oh, and it won’t cost you anything because Siri has already checked on your medical benefits and you are covered for the visit.
To become a value added layer that threads together all the important details in our lives is the only way I see technology companies truly sustaining. We’ve seen booms with personal financial planners, personal trainers and in its hey-day real estate agents. Now, we areon the cusp of witnessing technology knowledge navigators become all of these - and much more!
So next time, while sipping coffee in your neighborhood cafe, don’t be surprised if you get a text message suggesting you say hello to the person next to you because you both enjoy the same things. Serendipity might have a new name.